R&B singer Vesta Williams, best known for her ’80s hits, “Don’t Blow a Good Thing” and “Congratulations,” as well as “Once Bitten Twice Shy” and “Sweet, Sweet Love,” was found dead Thursday evening in an El Segundo, California, hotel room, the result of an apparent drug overdose. She was 53. Williams first entered the music industry as a backup singer for such artists as Chaka Khan, Anita Baker, and Sting, but would come into her own with the release of her first album, 1986’s Vesta. She also acted in movies and on TV, playing a saloon singer in the Mario Van Peebles movie, Posse, and Jackée Harry’s best friend Monica on the sitcom Sister, Sister.
In the ’90s, the tiny singer gained a bunch of weight, ballooning to a size 26; after a dramatic weight-loss program, she lost 100 pounds and got down to a size 6. “When I lost my record deal and my phone wasn’t ringing,” she told Ebony magazine, “I realized that I had to reassess who Vesta was and figure out what was going wrong. I knew it wasn’t my singing ability. So it had to be that I was expendable because I didn’t have the right look.” Williams was scheduled to perform at the 21st annual Divas Simply Singing! concert in Los Angeles on October 22, which will now pay tribute to her and the late singer Teena Marie. (via New York Times)